Qigong and Reality (Part I)

January 2010


Most of us want to believe we have the, or at least a, correct view of Reality. For the purposes of this article, let’s assume Reality is very simple. It is:


The Way Things Truly Are. It is The Suchness of Things.

Now before some of you who understand Quantum physics (much better than I do) say that we have no way of knowing certain things, I say "so what." No matter what the probabilities are, they are what they are regardless of whether or not we understand what they are or what they truly mean. (Remember, one of the cornerstones of Quantum Physics is actually called the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. The HUP says that we cannot know both a particles exact location and its exact momentum at the same time.)

In my humble opinion, there must be something that understands The Way Things Truly Are. There is no way to get certainty from uncertainty unless the uncertainty is only uncertain to those entities that call it uncertainty. In other words, things do behave according to the Laws of Nature or the Universe. If there was any uncertainty, then these Laws would not be consistent.

The end result of what I have just said is that if Things can only be One Way, then what is true for Qigong must also be true for every other modality which claims to do or accomplish the same things in more-or-less the same ways.

Most people who are familiar with Qigong (Chi Gong) think of it as a set of breathing exercises coupled with some form(s) of movement which is designed to improve our health.

It is actually much more complicated than that.

Let’s take a minute to examine why Qigong is associated with breathing.

Thousands of years ago people did not know oxygen existed. They could not see it or what it did. However, they could see and experience the act of inhaling something in and exhaling something out.

This something appeared to be intimately associated with living because when you stopped inhaling it, you died. Therefore, the ancients surmised we were inhaling energy we needed to continue living. It was called Qi (Chi).

We were seen as exhaling used or bad Qi (Fei Qi). However, this was not given as much importance as the Yang (Cosmic) Qi we take in when we inhale.

Later, after the existence of oxygen and its importance became accepted, the word Qi came to mean breath and/or air; while still meaning Cosmic and/or Life Force Energy.

Qi is seen as having two aspects: Yin and Yang. They are the two complimentary poles of the same thing.

Yin is feminine, cooling, solid, condensing. Yang is masculine, warming, fluid and expanding. When Qi manifests as matter, it has more Yin characteristics. When Qi manifests as energy, it has more Yang characteristics.

Gong is translated as skill or work. Therefore, Qigong is Energy Skill or Work.

Since in the Daoist view of The Way Things Are, the Universe is always working to Harmonize its Qi and keep it in balance; and, the highest goal of humanity is seen as harmonizing with Nature, the less impact your energy has upon the Universe, the higher your level of Qigong.

This ideal becomes complicated when we feel morally obligated to try correct imbalances in the Universe’s Harmony which are created by other peoples' imbalances.

However, the purpose of this article is not to discuss the moral or ethical implications of Qigong. It is only to discuss its basis in Reality.

Qigong employs various Physical, Mental and Spiritual means to balance our Qi or Internal Energy. Physical movement, breathing, mental manipulation, spiritual purification and/or any combination of these four actions are employed in all forms of Qigong.

These four actions can be grouped into two classifications: Active Exercise and Inner Health Cultivation.

Active Exercise is best described as a Mind-Body Exercise. This means that all aspects of every action are consciously controlled by you. In order to do this, you must consciously determine and constantly adjust your posture, your breathing, your thoughts, your emotions and your actions.

By the way, I can not fathom performing any action that is not a Mind-Body Action. Our lives in this Reality are short enough without giving up any of our finite number of moments which are based in this Reality. Especially, if it is just to enable us to live in some other subjective reality which is based in a different space and/or time frame created by, in and for our conscious minds by our some part(s) of our Heart/Mind.

Sometimes we call this living in a different time or space Day Dreaming. However, any time we put our consciousness anywhere except in The Here and Now, we are not living our present moment or Reality.

Did you notice that I did not just say …we are not living in our Reality.

This is because I believe it is almost Impossible not to live in Your Own Personal Reality. However, it is not clear where we should draw the line between what is an acceptable amount of deviation between The Way Things Truly Are and the way we perceive things to be.

Almost everyone believes there should be as little deviation as possible. Yet, most people get around this by refusing to acknowledge how much they color The Way Things Truly Are just to suit their own personal agendas.

It is really not possible to determine how much distortion your lens has by continuing to look through your own lens. You must look at it! You must examine it for flaws and defects. This means that we actually have to find a different lens to look through, if we want to examine the one we are using at this moment.

This brings us to the second grouping of Qigong exercises:

Inner Cultivation.

Inner Cultivation can be described as regulating and purifying your Heart, which governs your Consciousness, Thinking and Spirit.

The more you can purify your Heart, the less you will color or stray from Reality.

Active Exercise gives us the strength of body and mind to accomplish the more difficult tasks of Inner Cultivation.

In Yoga, the equivalent of Qigong is some combination of Asana and Pranayama. However, in the eight-limbed (or steps of) Raja Yoga the first two limbs are the Yamas and Niyamas or, loosely translated, Restraints and Observances.

Like Qigong, Pranayama is also an energy skill and can be translated from the Sanskrit as “Energy Restraint.” Like Qi, Prana also means “Energy, Breath or Life Force."

Asana or the stretching poses which most people often associate with Hatha Yoga is the third limb of Raja Yoga. Pranayama is the fourth limb of the eight limbs of Raja Yoga.

As in Qigong, the physical practice of Yoga normally precedes the energy practice. This rule is followed to make sure that:

  1. There is enough energy in your internal system to accomplish what needs to be done without taking energy from the more mundane life processes.
  2. The energy system is prepared to handle the additional demands placed on it by the new practices.
  3. The Will Power is strong enough to regulate the stronger flow of the additional energy.
  4. The Will Power is strong enough not to let our emotions and desires run wild due to the increase in energy, especially sexual energy.

Now let’s get back to Reality.

End of Part I.